My Battling Bronte Sisters (and Branwell!) are almost done, painted and based. Photographing them close up always throws up a few area to finish.
When they are not role playing their heroic parts in their juvenilia ImagiNations of Glass Town, Angria, Gaaldine and Gondal, they are all of course battling with the Dark Forces of Yarkshire folklore.
What started out as two packs of Bad Squiddo ‘Little Wolves’ (youngsters or child sized figures in Annie Norman’s 28mm Amazon Range) have been subtly converted to capture some of the make-believe of children at play.
I thought that they could be painted both as dressed as children role playing games and as heroic figures tackling Dark folkloric forces of Yarkshire.
Distinguishing the sisters is usually done by hair colour, especially in films.
I referred to the famous Bronte portrait by Branwell (centre, who later painted himself out) as well as the recent BBC drama To Walk Invisible for my colour palette.
Reddish hair – Anne – painted in grey with red sash
Brown hair – Emily – painted with longer skirt and green tunic, red belt
Black hair – Charlotte – painted with blue dress and red sash
Clothes – I kept the colour scheme quite dark coloured, sober and practical for parsons’ daughters in wet damp Tropical Yorkshire, even through early Victorians were often more colourful than our image of sober Late Victorians.
Image: Isabel Greenberg’s Glass Town. She uses the same hair colour system.
All paints were Matt Revell Aquacolor Acrylics, starting with a Matt black undercoat.
Faces – in keeping with the overall drab Matt colours of their clothes, boots or clogs etc, I avoided my usual bright gloss colours and toy soldier faces with pink cheek dots etc. Instead I chose a subtle mouth or lip colour ( a trace of carmine red) and a darker flesh using Revell Afrikabraun (or desert brown) instead of flesh.
To add that grungy, muddy feel of children out on the moors or getting mucky playing around the Parsonage, I used a brown shade or wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade on flesh, faces and folds.
The Branwell ‘problem’
The two packs I bought from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo were all female.
As I failed to find any suitable 28mm boy figures, I set about converting one of the girl figures into a red haired brother Branwell boy figure.
Filing down an excess of plaited hair, I covered the rest of the luscious plaited locks with an old hooded travelling cape (it were wet, dark and cold up on those moors) made of tissue paper and PVA.
I considered adding breeches or trousers with tissue paper and PVA but thought that Branwell as a boy was the only one in Victorian times who could get away with bare legs and ankles. The parson’s three surviving daughters probably could not.
Branwell’s poems show a familiarity with the classical and heroic epic, so I painted him bare legged, just wearing his ankle boots. His trouser legs are probably rolled up and he is wearing an old smock to look like a classical hero with tunic and cape. All make-believe or possibly real, playing around with that dual use notion.
Branwell (left) and Charlotte (right). Branwell’s cloak hood needs defining by shadow.
Basing is onto 1 penny MDF bases from Warbases, with PVA used to fix a rough mix of grassy flock and fine Cornish beach sand to suggest the moors. Appropriate enough as the Bronte children’s mother was born and grew up in Penzance, not far from the source beach in Cornwall.
Hopefully gritty and northern enough? Until I can go up on the moor and gather some proper Yarkshire grit and dirt.
Battling the Bronte Sisters
These figures are great for duelling games using simple ‘parry and lunge’ (Gerard de Gre) dice or card rules from Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming.
On their way in the post, I have on order two packs of 28mm “Little Wolves” (Amazons range) from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo Games.
These will represent each of the three Bronte sisters in combat “role playing” in their fictional ImagiNations of Gondal, GlassTown, Angria and Gaaldine.
This will provide me the three sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne – and one spare (a friend?)
This should give me a focus for #FEMBruary 2022 – Each February, miniature or figure painters and gamers choose to paint or model believable female miniatures as part of a challenge by fantasy gamer and modeller Imperial Rebel Ork.
I will look around for a suitable brother Branwell 28mm figure, once I have ‘met’ his sisters. To me, he is usually portrayed on screen as Naughty Norman Price of Ponty Pandy, straight out of Fireman Sam.
Being a figure converter and tinkerer, an improvised tissue paper sash or two might feature to flesh out the girls’ ImagiNations uniforms, inspired by Isabel Greenberg’s Glass Town.
Isabel Greenberg’s superb Glass Town graphic novel shows the Bronte sisters and brother in their ImagiNations uniforms.
I can easily see these fighting sisters being up and at ’em, duelling against other fantasy or historical figures in roughly 28mm scale – zombies, skeletons, regency dandies and assorted Bronte ImagiNations bad guys in Pride Prejudice and Zombies style – as this slides into gothic, RPG or fantasy gaming…
Bad Squiddo Figures
I have previously enjoyed painting Bad Squiddo figures of Land Girls for my ‘boycraft’ entry for my local flower and veg show, crafts section in 2019.
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – a wash and brush up for the new 54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures, prior to the FEMbruary believable female figure painting challenge (started by Alex at Lead Balloony)
Annie Norman at her Bad Squiddo official Facebook Group Baggy’s Cave is running an interesting poll about which historical female figures that gamers, mini painters and collectors would like to pledge towards or see produced in future by Bad Squiddo.
I thought of the Bronte Sisters (and brother Branwell) who were pioneering Role Playing Gamers in the 1830s through their juvenile fictions or ImagiNations of Glass Town, Gondal and Angria, inspired by a gift of some wooden toy soldiers.
These have been a great stimulus for my gaming to continuing or exploring these sketched out but sketchy Bronte ImagiNations
The fragments that have survived of these ImagiNations as we have mentioned before in Bronte posts are somewhat confusing but I found that Isabel Greenberg’s charming graphic novel version Glass Town straightens or smoothed many of these story and character fragments out.
I loved Isabel Greenberg’s drawings of these four Brontes in the same Regency / early Victorian costumes as their ImagiNations characters. You can see an example of such pages of Isabel’s work here on the interesting US based Solrad comics website:
Annie Norman’s Bad Squiddo figures are usually 28mm. I think that Bronte figures would be excellent figures – and even better if there was a set in ImagiNations uniforms and a shadow set as they were in real life portraits, always useful as Early Victorian Civilians.
Dual Use figures – saves costs, extends their play value and their potential market of buyers, as well as the Haworth Yorkshire tourism, the Bronte Fan and literary market worldwide.
Adding Bronte ImagiNations command or character personality figures means that with some simple dual flagging, a Napoleonic or Colonial 19th Century unit instantly becomes an ImagiNations one.
The Bronte sisters and Branwell grew up in an age of conflict in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, during a young Queen Victoria’s expanding Empire and Charlotte living up to the Crimean War. Their tragic deaths at a relatively young age meant they were all dead ten years before the American Civil War.
The same dual flagging works at 15mm with the addition of an Angrian flag bearer to my Peter Laing mixed ACW and ECW unit figures seen here seeing off Ashantee Warriors and rogue Highlanders in the ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ forest of the Brontes’ fevered Imaginations:
After a mad few minutes “Bronte Fan Bombing” the comments section of Baggy’s Cave on Facebook a little, I wondered what if Annie Norman and the Bad Squiddo Facebook folk don’t choose the Brontes as special figures?
I might have to scratch around in 20mm Airfix for Waggon Train women, both bare headed or in bonnets, and the Robin Hood / Sherwood Forest sets (Maid Marian on horseback!) to find suitable Bronte Sisters figures in uniform. I would have to do the same for my few Peter Laing 15mm civilian females.
I don’t usually go to wargames shows as there are none that near me anyway.
I know that not attending these shows due to the pandemic closures has affected lots of manufacturers, big and small. I thoroughly support someone’s suggestion on their blog or Facebook forum that we should buy what we would have browsed and bought at a show. Many figure companies that have not mothballed during the pandemic have been doing their best to keep going through their online shop offer.
In addition to the small purchases that I make throughout the year to put away for Christmas to help my family out on the difficult task of what to buy me as a gift, I have bought ahead of time these beautiful and unusual Bad Squiddo female Pigeoneers of WW2 and pigeon baskets.
I don’t game in 28mm. These will get painted up as part of my #FEMbruary female figure painting challenge for 2021.
They should do well as a possible painting diorama vignette entry on the next Spring Flower Show (this year’s show was another casualty of Lockdown). The wonderful Doctor Carrot and Potato Pete figures are for another future project but could also form an alternative Spring flower show entry in the mixed craft section?
When I posted this in Baggy’s Cave the Bad Squiddo Facebook fan group, it made Annie Norman cry!
Whoops. I made Annie Norman cry. I didn’t think the gloss toy soldier painting was that bad. 🙂
Sorry Annie! Bad Squiddo – a great smaller ‘mini’ company to support. Annie Norman does a very relaxed and informal visual Sunday coffee morning hangout on YouTube and there is also the Baggy’s Cave Facebook group.
In future posts, I will share some more Christmas stowings away of a small Infantry skirmish sized order from Paul at Early War Miniatures Dutch and Danish 1940 range in 20mm and a patrol or two of Sergeants Mess Boy Scouts also in 20mm (1:72 metal).
Support your favourite Miniature makers – buy early for Christmas. Or now …
Why? Because you’re worth it! They need the cash flow. It’s our gaming version of the government “eat out to help out” scheme for restaurants in the U.K.
A success for boycraft at my local village spring flower show!
My 28mm Bad Squiddo Miniatures WW2 Land Girls received ThirdPrize in the Miscellaneous (Adult) Crafts.
I was quietly pleased as it is the first time I’ve entered, having noticed a lack of male competitors in many sections last year. My Land Girls had good stiff competition in their Miscellaneous Crafts Class 96 against serious traditional crafts like stained glass and felt art / making.
I wasn’t sure how a military subject would go down in the craft section of a flower show, so chose something appropriate to the horticultural theme and the local area. I’m sure the local Land Girls came in for dances in our Village Hall, which opened like many after the First World War.
I wasn’t sure how my shiny gloss toy soldier painting style would go down, whether people would expect something more ‘Matt’ and earthy.
The judges wrote on the entry slip “So detailed and a wonderful sentiment. Thank you for entering” as I had personalised it as a tribute to Land Girls who served and trained in the area I live in. That’s good enough for me – one of the judges got what I was trying to do.
To create a context for the women at work, I added some simple brown felt strips over coffee stirrers to be the rows for spuds (potatoes) being planted.
It has been overcast and stormy, not the best weekend of constant light for photography, but I wanted to photograph the figures in case they didn’t survive the hustle and bustle of exhibition outside of a display case.
A previous blog post shows the Land Girls in preparation:
I’m already thinking about what to enter next year … maybe I will enter some quirky Prince August based 54mm home cast traditional toy soldiers? Speaking of Prince August moulds and figures – Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Who knows my ‘Land Girls’ might flush out into the open a few more male crafters for next year? This would be great but also more competition.
Thanks to Marvin at Suburban Militarism blog for his encouragement to enter this mancraft into the flower show.